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                                   In about half a day, could you swim 2.4 miles,
                                        Deputy City Attorney Mike Smith

                                   bike-ride for 112 miles, then cap things off with a
                                   26.2-mile run? Mike Smith, a deputy city attorney
                                                   who is a legal advisor primarily han-
                                                   dling personnel and internal affairs is-
                                                   sues at the Tacoma Police Department,
                                                   managed to do that when he completed
                                                   his first Ironman triathlon in Coeur
                                                   d'Alene, Idaho this summer. “I finished
                                                   in 12 hours and 32 minutes. For my age
                                                   group, I suppose that’s OK,” he quietly
                                                   said. “It’s important to have conservative
                                                   goals, especially if you’re doing this for
                                                   the first time. I simply wanted to finish in
                                                   the daytime, and in under 13 hours. And
                                                   I did that. Just to give you an idea of how
                                                   competitive things are though, it’s under
                                                   10 hours for a guy in my age group to
                                                   qualify for Hawaii.”

                                                   Smith seems to enjoy pushing himself.
                                                   At TPD headquarters, on a photo-lined
                                                   wall, there’s a picture of him – 60 pounds
                                                   heavier. “I lost most of that weight to-
                                                   ward the end of 2006 and the beginning
                                                   of 2007 by slowly adopting healthier
                                                   eating habits and exercising more,” he
                                                   explained. “In 2007, I was able to run
                                                   the Portland Marathon in just under four

“I couldn’t have done it without the
                                                   hours. Then, I did the Seattle Marathon

    support of my department.”
                                                   seven weeks later in three hours and 52
                                                   minutes. In 2008, I did four triathlons -
                                                   Seafair, Federal Escape, Coeur d’Alene
                                                   and the Black Diamond Half-Ironman.”

                                                   Training for his first Ironman “official-
                                                   ly” began in January 2009. “It was nuts.
                                                   I would come into work early, or leave
                                                   late, just so I could fit my training regi-
                                                   men into the work day. I couldn’t have
                                                   done it without the support of my depart-
                                                   ment,” he added. “Everyone knew what I
                                                   was attempting to do, and everyone was
                                                   supportive. That’s just the type of culture
                                                   we have here. I also did a lot of training
                                                   with Assistant Chief Richard McCrea, an
                                                   avid cyclist. I learned a lot from him.”

                                                   “I knew that Mike would succeed at
                                                   the Ironman competition. Mike loves
                                                   to compete and he never gives up,” said
                                                   McCrea. “During his training, he always
                                                   maintained his high level of productivity
                                                   here at work with minimal administra-
                                                   tive support. Mike handles everything
                                                   personnel or internal affairs related and
                                                   directly advises the Chief on policy re-
                                                   lated issues and public disclosure re-

                                                   “I get as much administrative help as I
probably need,” said Smith, who joined the City of Tacoma in 2006 after being with the King County Prosecutor’s Of-
fice for over seven years. He took this job to spend more time with his two little girls, Maya, age four, and Maddie, age
six, and his wife, Monicka, whose family from Cambodia had been deeply entrenched in Tacoma since the early 80’s.
“Counting my time at the King County Prosecutor’s Office, I’ve now had over 10 years in public service. I’ve worked in
public service my whole life, so I’ve gotten used to finding my way.”

At a very young age, Smith managed to “find his way” through the streets of Chicago, while living with his two sisters
in a children’s home. “I liked Chicago,” he said without faltering. “I had no qualms about taking the subways alone or
walking to school by myself. Chicago is a great city and I enjoyed living there.”

Smith was eventually adopted with his two sisters by a couple from Post Falls, Idaho who already had three biological
children of their own and five other adopted children. The couple later adopted eight more children, and eventually had a
total of 19 children in their home.

“It was interesting being part of such a large, very diverse family,” said Smith. “I learned to develop certain interpersonal
skills that without a doubt enhanced my ability to interact with people from all walks of life as a public sector attorney.”

Smith had wanted to be an attorney since junior high, a desire he says was partly influenced by some pivotal personal
experiences growing up in Northern Idaho.

“We lived in Northern Idaho during a time when the white supremacists – members of the Aryan Nations – were in their
hey day,” said Smith, recounting what it was like to be at a lively televised debate between an Aryan Nations official and
the prosecutor’s office. His adoptive father – a police detective who later became a police captain – ended up having to
protect members of the Aryan Nations from a swelling mob. “Many citizens were angry about the stigma that the mem-
bers of the Aryan Nations had brought upon Northern Idaho at the time. My father protected them, even though they had
sent us death threats for being a multiracial family, because he simply regarded it as his professional duty, as a member
of the force, regardless of his personal feelings.”

Smith went on to describe with admiration what his TPD colleagues do on a daily basis to make Tacoma a better place.
“What the men and women do here is remarkable. Take the goal of reducing crime by 50 percent. It’s tough, but they’re
out there trying to do it,” he said. “They are professional, dedicated and extremely hard working. I try very hard in my
position as a legal advisor to let them do their job without getting in the way. I think most people have a view of police
officers as only being out to arrest bad guys, but they also spend a great deal of time looking at root causes and scrutiniz-
ing what sustains crime. Reducing crime by 50 percent is a big goal, but I’ve learned that sometimes you need big goals
to make big changes and I think we’re on the right track.”

“Mike serves as a great of example of the type of employee that you’d want in a dynamic organization like the City of Ta-
coma,” said City Attorney Elizabeth Pauli. “He is very motivated and understands the goals of the organization and, with
minimal supervision, works toward them with enthusiasm and judicious use of resources. While Ironman competitions
may seem extreme, I think Mike’s focus on family and fitness actually provides a wonderful balance in his life, enhancing
his value as a member of the Legal team. We are very glad to have him.”

“Mike is a tremendous asset to the Tacoma Police Department and to the entire City of Tacoma team,” said Chief Don
Ramsdell. “He is a wonderful attorney, has an incredible work ethic and exemplifies the core values of the city. He is
certainly a pleasure to work with.”

Much of his free time outside of work, Smith said, is devoted to his two little girls. He routinely attends Parent Teachers
Association meetings and is on the Community Oriented Public Safety Commission for the City of University Place. This
year, he also volunteered to be the soccer coach of his daughters’ team. “Ok, look. I had never played soccer in my life,”
he laughed. “I was upfront with them when I said that soccer was not my thing. But, things went pretty well. I did some
Internet research on how to coach five and six-year-olds, and also faithfully ensured that snacks were brought to every
game to prevent a mini-uprising. I’ll probably do it again next year.”

Smith expects to compete in another Ironman in 2011, when his girls are a little older. “I enjoy the structure that training
gives me,” he said. He will continue to compete in shorter triathlons and marathons, with several lined up this year.